Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Position top rack in the center of the oven. Place a baking pan on the rack below this. Boil water.
Make crust: Mix the crumbs and salt together in a small bowl, then add butter and stir to mix. Set aside 1/4cup for topping. Press the rest into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
Turn on kitchen or stove exhaust fan. Skewer and roast the habaneros over an open flame (gas burner is fine) and set them to steam under a towel. When they are cool enough to handle, put on plastic gloves if desired. Peel and deseed habaneros, then pound in a mortar with the 2 tablespoons of sugar until a coarse paste results.
Cream the cream cheese, then add remaining sugar and salt. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. Add the cream and blend. Beat the zest and lime juice into this mixture. Add the habanero paste last and beat until well mixed. Pour into the crust, then gently tap the pan to level the filling. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs on top.
Pour boiling water into the pan on the oven's lower rack. Place the cheesecake on the rack above it. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until the cheesecake pulls away from the edge of the pan. Remove from the oven and allow to set for 20 minutes. Wrap and keep in the refrigerator overnight, or if rushed, place in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours.
Garnish, if desired, with slices of lime and place a whole habanero in the center.
Recipe courtesy of Helen Cook